Why isn’t my milk frother frothing?

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If your electric milk frother isn’t frothing it’s likely you haven’t fitted the whisk correctly or have selected the wrong programme. If you’re using a handheld milk frother and it isn’t frothing then the batteries may be out of power or you are using an incorrect technique. Using unsuitable milk can also affect the quality of foam no matter which type of milk frother you are using.

So, there is good and bad news here. It’s obviously not great if your milk frother isn’t frothing. But the good news is, as I’ve said above, it can only be for one of a very few reasons, all of which are easy to fix. Let’s expand on that.

Why your milk frother isn’t frothing

If you’re using an electric milk frother and your milk is remaining stubbornly flat or only creating microfoam the most likely cause is that you haven’t fitted the whisk.

Most electric or automatic frothers have three functions. They foam hot or cold milk or simply heat milk without foaming. When simply heating milk the whisk at the bottom of the jug is removed. If the whisk isn’t replaced you won’t be able to foam your milk. Check that the whisk head is in place.

If your frother is brand new and isn’t foaming it’s likely the whisk head hasn’t been fitted. It’s sometimes stored on the lid so check there.

The other thing to check here is that you have selected the correct programme. Most electric milk frothers have three programmes: hot foam, cold foam, and heat milk. If you’ve selected the heat milk option that is all that will happen – your milk will be heated with no foam. It’s an easy mistake to make so always choose hot foam when making your frothy coffee.

Using a handheld frother but no froth?

A handheld milk frother is a great tool to use. A top of the range model will only cost you around £15 ($20), they are easy to use and clean, and hardly cost anything to run.

making froth with a milk frother

But, if you’re using a handheld frother and not managing to make a thick creamy foam every time, it can only be for one of these few reasons:

1 – The batteries have run out of power.
2 – You haven’t quite mastered the technique.
3 – You’re using a poor quality and cheap frother.

If you use good quality batteries in your milk frother they should last for a long time. They should be good for at least 100 cups of frothy coffee. But once they start to lose their power the difference in performance is dramatic.

If your handheld milk frother isn’t frothing very well the first thing you should do is check the batteries. If the power has started to drain from them. popping in fresh batteries will see a dramatic increase in how fast the whisk head spins. The faster it spins the thicker the foam it will make.

When using a handheld milk frother there is a definite technique to getting the foam. When frothing, gently rotate the whisk head around the cup or jar of milk, raising it as the foam is formed to ensure the whisk head is always in the top layer of milk.

If your milk frother isn’t frothing it may be that you are keeping it static and at the bottom of the liquid when frothing.

The third reason why your handheld milk frother isn’t frothing is that it may just not be very good.

You can purchase cheap milk frothers for as little as £1 ($1). But there is a reason for this. They are rubbish. A cheap milk frother will have a smaller whisk head and will spin slower than a premium model. The result is that they just don’t make very good foam.

As a premium milk frother such as the Aerolatte or Zulay Milk Boss costs less than £15 it is very much a false economy to buy a very cheap inferior frother. It may seem like a bargain at the time but the very cheap milk frothers just don’t froth very well. So, even at a quid they are a complete waste of money.

The Aerolatte and Milk Boss frothers

USB frothers

If you’re one of the few people using a USB powered milk frother (they’ve not really caught on) and it isn’t frothing the advice is simply to recharge the device. Ensure its fully charged before attempting to make foam otherwise you’ll have the same issue as those of us trying to make froth when our frother batteries have run out.

No fats no froth

Another reason why your milk frother isn’t frothing could be the milk you’re using. This can apply no matter which type of milk frother you have.

UK and US milk and cream comparison

Different milks foam differently. The general rule is the more fats the better. This is why whole milk froths best. That isn’t to say you can’t use different milks.

Of course, you can but do be aware the volume of foam will differ between milks. It will also probably differ between brands so if you find a milk which foams well stick with it.

If you’re using no fat (skimmed milk) or most of the plant-based milks you won’t get the same amount of foam as you would if you used whole milk.

This obviously isn’t great news for vegans. Of the plant-based milks soy and oat tend to foam the best.

However, barista blend milks make exceptional froth. They are still vegan and you should be able to buy them from your usual supplier.

It’s all in the timing

The only other reason why your milk frother isn’t frothing is that you’re not frothing long enough.

This shouldn’t be an issue with an electric frother (they’re pre-programmed), but if you’re using a handheld frother you should whisk the milk for around 30 seconds.

However, if you’re using a cheaper frother with a small whisk head (like the £1 Ikea milk frother) it could take longer so stick at it.

Let’s sum up

As we’ve seen there really isn’t too much that can go wrong with a milk frother. If yours isn’t frothing, we’ve covered all the obvious reasons for that. Hopefully the advice I’ve given will resolve any issues you’re having. But if not don’t hesitate to get in touch and I’ll try my best to help further.

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